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Lawyers’ Committee, ACLU sues Election Integrity Commission over lack of transparency

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law plans to use every tool in its arsenal to stop the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

The organization filed a federal lawsuit Monday against the Commission for its failure to operate in a transparent manner under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

The lawsuit was filed after the Commission didn’t respond to a Lawyers’ Committee request a week ago for documents regarding an upcoming meeting scheduled for July 19, which will be live streamed but not open to the public.

Kristen Clarke, President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee, said during a teleconference Tuesday that the Commission has been operating covertly and its actions have been shrouded in secrecy.

“We believe that the Commission is being used to advance private agendas,” she said.

In its lawsuit, the Lawyers’ Committee alleges the Commission’s failure to disclose communications and make its meetings open to the public violates FACA.

FACA was enacted in 1972 to govern the behavior of federal advisory committees.

The Commission came under fire recently after it sent a letter to all 50 states requesting an assortment of voter data, though that request has since been put on hold.

In addition to the lawsuit, the Laywers’ Committee has also filed a Hatch complaint against Commission Vice-Chair Kris Kobach, who recently announced his candidacy for the 2018 Kansas gubernatorial election. He is accused in the complaint of exploiting his Commission role to promote his candidacy and solicit campaign contributions.

Other actions the Committee has launched in an effort to stop the Commission include setting up a hotline for the public to report instances of voter suppression and sending letters to to Secretaries of State demanding they not comply the Commission’s request for voter roll data.

Clarke said the demand for voter data has already had a chilling affect across the nation, prompting some people to withdraw their voter registration.

In a separate action Monday, the ACLU also sued the Commission for its lack of transparency.

The 31-page lawsuit also cites FACA violations including that the Commission already held its first meeting without public notice; without making that meeting open to the public.

The lawsuit contends that the Commission was created to legitimize President Donald Trump’s claim that he won the 2016 election by popular vote once millions of illegal votes are subtracted.

That purpose strays from the state purpose of the Commission, according to the lawsuit.

“This commission was designed to sell a lie,” said Dale Ho, Director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

If the President wanted to look at the voter rolls and registration of every American, why won’t he show the public his own documents related to the Commission, Ho asked.

Ho and Clarke called the voter data requests unprecedented.

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